November 16, 2010

The first question and nearly every question that follows...

When first diagnosed with cancer we try to come to grips with 'Now what'? "Now what" with my life, my treatments, my family, my career and so on. The trepidation of now what does not end with the initial diagnosis, it goes on and on. With every up and down, every good test result and every bad, your mind immediately returns to the constant questioning. Now what?

I know some of you may be saying that this is no different than life in general, it's just human nature to question the future, to wonder what lies ahead. While I have no argument to counter, I do believe that it is much different for those of us with cancer.

My journey, though a tad short of six years, is a constant journey of questioning. Every four weeks I visit my doctor to be retested. The results of these tests never lead to peace in my mind or in my heart. If the numbers are good, I question 'For how long?'. When the numbers are bad, like they were last Monday, I wonder 'Now what?'. The very limited number of options I have continues to be a challenge and weighs heavy on my mind. There are three or four things I can do next, but none of them really provide substantial relief for my heart or mind.

I am not writing this from a place of depression, I'm actually in a great place mentally. I'm just trying to make a point so that when you see me, or talk to me and I say 'Oh I'm doing fine', it's a little more complicated than that...actually it's much more complicated. I try my best to remain hopeful. I just wish for a little while that I could get a reprieve from the 'Now what"!


Marylander said...

Thanks, David, for putting into words the experiences shared by my husband and so many other men living with advanced prostate ca. It's a real marathon for the body, mind, and soul -- and we love you for forging bravely ahead on a course so tough and uncertain.

From a wife's perspective, one of many "more complicated" moments involves friends and family who want us to RSVP for travel, vacations, and other events set for weeks, months and even years from now. No one really knows what the next day may hold. But someone scheduled for radiation or considering his next chemo trial really shouldn't be pressured by friends to confirm he'll visit their villa in the south of France 6 months from now, no matter how "tight their schedules" or how great their urge to "pin down these dates."

Anonymous said...

Nicely put, Dave. Life in middle age is complicated enough, even without a major health challenge. Perhaps you can get a momentary reprieve on the dg course with your buds. Reduce "now what?" to "Buzz or APX?". Works for me. Maybe I'll see you Saturday.


Terry said...


I don't pretend for a minute that you and I are in the same place, but you have expressed so well what I am sure so many of us feel.

Really, the only difference in the end is one of degree. I have more options open to me; I'm not where you are yet, but there's always that cloud, sometimes no bigger than a man's hand on the horizon, but never, never completely out of sight.

LeftTenant said...

My own thanks to you Bro for sharing the journey. Cancer is a side show, not the main event--that would be our miraculous lives. PCa is a value clarifier and it even brings into our lives wonderful people whom we'd never have met otherwise (I reflect on the Nuke Med folks I revisited today).

Marylander! Book the Trip! (and buy trip insurance). We don't know what we don't know and neither do the docs. I am so gratified that I've pushed the mental bars away from my cell. Cancer dudes outlast a lot of "healthy" people. I pray your man will feel the life the spirit and invigorate his immune system suppressing all wayward cell comers.

Marylander said...


My husband has always been the freest spirit I know when it comes to mental bars. For the past 4 years, he's lived an active, optimistic life despite an initial PSA of 4,400 and mets in all major bones.

My guy certainly isn't a whiner, few 55-year-old stone masons are. Still, the fact remains that for him and many others there are often physical constraints like pain and fatigue.

As a longtime survivor of cancer, I can tell you that metastatic ca is a much different ball game than earlier, more easily curable stages of cancer. When mets are pressing on the spinal cord and threatening to turn your loved one into a paraplegic, it pretty much is the main event. We've been there, done that, and are now back in "side show" mode for the gorgeous fall weather!

Anonymous said...

I wish that reprieve for you David. Part of me KNOWS there is a way to get to it - but I can't pretend I KNOW what that way is. I think of you often and it's normally in this very context. I'm so proud of you and admire you more than I ever did as your choices have called me so much higher.
- Kirk M.